PROVO — BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall used his Wednesday night show to express disappointment with his team's most recent loss, but also to pull positives from the Cougars' 31-24 overtime setback at UCF.
The margin between victory and defeat is always narrow in extra time, but Mendenhall said if the team executes all night they don’t have to dwell on a single play, or put the game in anybody else’s hands.
Case in point: BYU's final offensive play of overtime, in which an apparent fourth-down pass interference call was missed by the officiating crew. In the days that followed, the officiating supervisor in charge of reviewing questionable calls acknowledged that the field officials missed the play.
PROVO — No team ever wants to replace a starting quarterback midway through the year, but that’s the hand the BYU has been dealt.
Now after two straight losses, the Cougars face the back half of what many thought could have been an undefeated season, and they are having to redefine who they are and what could still make this season special.
“We’re gonna go 10-2 and win the bowl game. I mean, that’s still a great season,” senior wide receiver Jordan Leslie said. “A lot of people expected us to go undefeated and they kind of see it as a letdown, but we’re trying to win every game, and 10-2 is a great record at any other school and it should be a great record here.”
PROVO — After suffering two straight losses, BYU seeks to get back on the winning track verse the Nevada Wolf Pack and their dual-threat quarterback senior Cody Fajardo.
The defense, which gave up 21 straight points to UCF in BYU’s 31-24 overtime loss last week, has had a lot of up-and-down moments this season through its first six games after coming into the season with high expectations.
“I think that as a defense we’re underachieving a little bit but that comes with just the little lack of experience,” said BYU linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga. “We’ve got to continue to work on our fundamentals, our execution, and we’ve got to make plays."
PROVO — It was a short week, injuries ran rampant, the game was on the East Coast, Jordan Leslie was held; if BYU wants excuses for losing to UCF, it has them. However, in the end, the Cougars had a 14-point lead in the second half. The question is who are these Cougars? Now that the ranking and national spotlight are gone, is BYU focused on settling for progress or winning? The tone during media interviews on Monday morning was somber optimism. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall pointed out what he saw from his team in BYU's second consecutive loss.
“Our team tried really hard,” Mendenhall said. “They played with a lot of grit and determination and heart. Christian Stewart really came along nicely, so a lot of positives, I think.”
Mendenhall said he was encouraged with young players and the better play of the defense, but he is disappointed the team didn’t win.
PROVO — With a 35-20 loss to in-state rival Utah State, a season-ending injury to the star quarterback and a game fast approaching Thursday night against Central Florida, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall had a lot to discuss during his weekly show Tuesday night.
Clearly the big question surrounding the program right now is the health of quarterback Taysom Hill, who left Friday’s game verse Utah State with a fractured lower leg that required surgery Saturday morning. Mendenhall explained that Hill was in surgery for two hours and that the injury required eight screws and two plates to be inserted into Hill’s leg and was ultimately worse than initially diagnosed.
Mendenhall recognizes the setback this is to his team but is also quick to point out how eager Hill is to return to being with his teammates to support them during this season, especially with once backup, now starting quarterback Christian Stewart.
PROVO — “Hectic.”
That is the one word BYU men’s head basketball coach Dave Rose used to describe the first practice of the season. BYU plays fast, that is how the Cougars like to score and that is how they like to practice. With a roster of 18, including many newcomers, the pace made for a little bit of crazy.
“A lot of things to improve on and get better at and to put in, but for the first day I was really pleased with the pace and the attitude of the players.” Rose said.
PROVO — With the promise of a perfect season shattered, and Heisman-candidate Taysom Hill out for the season, not much seems to be going right for the BYU Cougars. However, team members say they are ready to brush themselves off and face UCF this weekend, and head coach Bronco Mendenhall even said he’s “invigorated” with the challenge of a short week coming off such a heartbreaking loss.
One of the biggest challenges, of course, will be continuing without Taysom Hill, and preparing now with Christian Stewart leading the offense.
“The team simply has to execute at a higher level,” Mendenhall said. “Taysom is gone. One player does not make a team, even though Taysom’s a fantastic player. But the execution of all positions within their assignment, within their technique has to improve and improve right now.”
PROVO — After meeting with the media Wednesday afternoon, it is clear that this year’s BYU basketball team is built on senior leadership and depth that could bring it some great success.
BYU enters the season with five seniors who have all contributed in past seasons for the Cougars. With these seniors comes strong leadership and work ethic along with their talent that has head coach Dave Rose eager for this year’s team.
“I’m really excited for this year’s leadership because these five seniors will come every day with a piece of urgency to them and a finality to their career that maybe we didn’t have in that locker room last year,” said Rose.
PROVO — The BYU Cougars are back in action this week as they say goodbye to the bye week and hello to the Utah State Aggies. At Wednesday night’s broadacast of 'BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall,' the coach pointed out that Friday’s game will be the only in-state matchup in Utah this season, which sets the stakes a little higher than usual.
“I actually would consider the winner of this game, this year, the state champion because these are the only two teams participating,” Mendenhall said.
Utah State announced Wednesday night that senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton will not play in Friday’s game and may be out for the rest of the season. Mendenhall didn’t discuss how his absence would specifically affect the game, but rather wished Keeton the best
PROVO — Coming off a bye week, it is clear that the time off was not wasted as BYU seeks to improve upon its No. 18 AP poll ranking and 4-0 record heading into Friday night’s game with in-state rival Utah State.
The BYU coaches and players all expressed that despite their early season success the season is still a long way from being over, with eight games still remaining, and there is still more this team must improve upon to achieve its ultimate goals.
This bye week may have come at the perfect time to provide some reflection and rededication as the team enters October, facing quality opponents both at home and on the road.